Join me for an exhilarating experience – plant a tree (or two) at Chestnut Nature Park, Sat 19 May 2018

The Friends of Chestnut Nature Park (FoC) are happy to invite you to wield a changkul and plant trees at Chestnut Nature Park!

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Chestnut Nature Park is a green buffer to our precious green lung and biodiversity core, the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. With active contribution by members of the wider community, Friends of Chestnut Nature Park hopes that Chestnut Nature Park will fulfil its potential both as nature reserve buffer and a vibrant and sustainable recreational space enjoyed by mountain bikers, hikers, heritage and nature lovers alike.

Besides, who doesn’t love to plant trees! The forest at Chestnut Nature Park is recovering from a history of use and this can take centuries. We hope to offer a boost to restoration and thanks to NParks, we have this wonderful opportunity to enhance the habitat!

We are happy to invite you to join us on this wonderful privilege!

Anyone can join us, just sign up at Eventbrite.

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Trees.sg – NParks portal shares details of trees in parks and streetscapes

The NParks’ Trees.sg portal launched today revealed the identify of the cluster of trees at the western end of the pond in Kent Ridge Park which we walked past during the Battle of Pasir Panjang Anniversary Walk. They turned out to be Calophyllum soulattri, a critically endangered (CR) species native to Singapore. [Thanks Ivan Chew for the head’s up this morning!]

A click of the species name calls up the relevant page in the NParks Flora & Fauna Web where more information is available about the plant.

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Trees which are not along a public road may not be included as those may be privately managed and not in the main database. I looked up trees in NUS immediately but no joy – as yet. The portal does advise patience as there are subsequent phases.

Ohhh the pruning schedule is included! [Thanks Joys Tan for highlighting that!]

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Trees.sg has an option to indicate if a tree is flowering, but I imagine Facebook or Instagram may still be an easier and quicker way for most to share information. It could be a supplemental tool for students are wondering about the identity of a tree a hornbill landed on, or if a tree has a wide enough tree trunk to tie a camera trap around to monitor roadkills.

Meanwhile, friends online have already come up with a wishlist to provide as feedback for future revisions to improve useability. For now, though, we’re really happy to be able to confirm identities and look up details of some of our carbon-sequestering friends in Singapore.

Fung Tze Kwan said on fb,

“I went to click a couple [of trees] in my neighborhood to double check [their identities]. Can send treemail & give virtual hugs too lol. I found my fav kapok tree and gave it a hug. I used to visit it every weekend for a year when I was doing forest work there.”

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Fung Tze Kwan with her favourite kapok tree in 2012
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Lots of people are happy about this, thanks NParks!

Wed 31 Jan 2018: 10.30am-4.00pm – Zero-waste Roadshow @ NUS’ The Deck canteen

This Wednesday, The Deck canteen (Arts Canteen) is hosting a zero waste roadshow – learn how to reduce disposables, and be inspired about leading a zero waste lifestyle by outreach partners, retailers and video screenings (11am-2pm).

This initiative of Tingkat Heroes Singapore is conducted in collaboration with NUS SAVE and in support of NUS Goes Lite 2018. Visit the Facebook page to learn more and get connected.

Click for PDF
Zero Waste Roadshow

“Least Concerned” – Green Humour

At the Biodiversity Friends Forum Macaque Watch workshop last Saturday, we briefly discussed the conservation status of the long-tailed macaque.

The volunteers looked up the classifications defined by the IUCN Red List briefly and were able to recall various categories which we matched to a some Singapore species.

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Then on Facebook I saw this comic by Rohan Chakravarty at Green Humour which tickled me to no end, because it is both informative and tragic.

He includes the five categories we battle for, from Least Concern to Critically Endangered, skipping the extinct and data deficient categories and makes a significant point:

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I think we can use the cartoons in our workshops and we’ll add “Concerned” (anyone who tries) and “Least Concerned”.

You can follow Green Humour on Facebook..

Habitat restoration is more than planting trees

Last night, Ridge View Residential College’s Dr Chua Siew Chin and I discussed the steps we would need for the habitat restoration programme we have undertaken at Chestnut Nature Park, with participation from the community through Friends of Chestnut Nature Park.

Two community enrichment planting events have been facilitated by NParks who provide a good mix of species amongst the 50 stems. With their supervision, the community is quite easily able to plant trees, which is both exhilarating and educational. So we will pin down a few dates this year for everyone to plan.

That activity motivates us to discuss the outstanding issues – long-term aspects which are tougher to carry out: seed and seedling collection, nursery work (being carried out by UWC), weeding out aggressive species (assisted natural regeneration), soil and leaf litter sampling, phenology monitoring and a youth education programme.

Now that we hammered out a draft plan, we will flesh it out into a proposal and seek reviews. This is not something we will achieve overnight, but with half-yearly markers, it will move along.

Dovetailing it with likeminded individuals and programmes will certainly help. And in the college (RVRC) we will offer a multiple-component programme as a Forum in the new Year 2 programme.

If you are interested in forest work, let us know!

nBox – a Dropbox-like 1TB cloud storage service for NUS Staff!

Staff were rolling up their sleeves to tackle the onslaught of students returning on the first day of semester. Well, we received some great news and it was about nBox, a 1TB cloud service for NUS staff.

This provides a secure service which Dropbox users were trying to work around and also relieved us of OneDrive which has restrictive name formatting issues. nBox has them too, but is slightly less fussy.

nBox has “team folders” which have independent storage allocation and adjust permissions per folder.

Even as @mammal_gram Marcus Chua was raving about the service over in Washington DC, I shifted over the teaching folders I share with the FTTAs.

That’s a relief – now to take it through its paces!

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“It’s become so crowded…” – visual comparisons of street directories with One Historical Map

When looking over the Faculty of Science from the Science Library, my former classmates from 30 years ago looked over the faculty against their mental images and remarked, “It’s become so crowded”.

Our BSc class year graduated in 1990 and One Historical Map has street maps from 2017, 2007, 1995, 1984, 1975 and 1966. The webpage allows a side by side comparison and I picked the 2017 and 1995 maps. Yes, it has become crowded indeed.

Click for a larger view. fos2017_1995
Street map comparison of Faculty of Science in 2017 (top) and 1995 (below); screenshot from One Historical Map

In addition to building density, student numbers have increased too, especially amongst grad students. There were 4,977 students (4,594 u’grads + 383 grads) in 1994/5 and this had increased to 6,675 students by 2016/17 (5,126 u’grads + 1,549 grad students).

Oh well, during this time, the population density in Singapore increased from 4,814/sq. km to 7,796/sq. km. These are different times indeed.